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A commercial airline pilot explained what he really does on an 18-hour flight

  • A professional pilot went mega-viral when he detailed his duties on long-haul flights.

  • Gary Baumgardner dispelled the idea that they just relied on autopilot and did little else.

  • The upload was watched 9.3 million times as viewers praised Baumgardner for the work he did.

An airline pilot revealed what his job involves during long-haul flights to dispel the idea that he just sits back and lets the autopilot do all the work.

In July, a TikToker who goes by Idris Ali posted a video questioning what airline pilots do during 18-hour flights. Ali said he was under the impression their role simply consisted of taking off and then landing the plane, which he said seemed to leave them with 15 to 16 hours in between to fill.

He also speculated that pilots weren't allowed to sleep during that period, before acknowledging he wasn't a pilot himself so didn't really know what they could or couldn't do, and pondered how they spent their time in the sky.

The upload received 2.7 million views and over 2,600 comments, many of which seemed unsure of what pilots really did either. Some joked that they probably just shook the controls as a joke to pretend there was turbulence, or played some music and chatted with their co-workers.

On September 6, commercial airline pilot Gary Baumgardner, who has been flying since 2007, Insider previously reported, stitched Ali's video and gave some behind-the-scenes insight.

Baumgardner, who was wearing his uniform, said he had just finished a long flight and wanted to "set the record straight" and clear up some misconceptions about the roles and responsibilities of the pilot during a flight.

He dispelled the idea that he just focused on the take-off and landing, and said that the autopilot is more of a tool than a replacement for a trained pilot.

"If you're flying along and a thunderstorm shows up, the autopilot cannot just automatically direct you out of that," he said, and added that if air traffic control instructed him to climb, descend, or turn, the autopilot couldn't do that either.

Plus, there were the logs, calls, and system checks pilots had to do throughout, and he said they would also need to be on hand in the case of an emergency.

He told viewers that flights over 18 hours typically have four pilots on board, and they all have an opportunity to sleep. Most long, international flights have separate beds and bunks for the pilots, he said, and if there weren't any, they could reserve a first-class seat to rest instead.

Baumgardner's response went mega-viral, racking up 9.3 million views and over 2,700 comments. While some joked about how unnerving it would be to look across the aisle and see your pilot fast asleep, many praised Baumgardner, and pilots in general, for the work they do and the level of responsibility they take on.

"If it was easy, everyone and their brother would be A380 pilots, and any serene flight can become a rollercoaster ride in seconds. Respect pilots," one viewer wrote in a popular comment.

Baumgardner has 254,000 followers on TikTok where he answers common questions about the life of a pilot, including what they see at night, how to turn on an airplane, and how aircraft are protected in thunderstorms.

This article originally appeared on Insider.

Photo: Chris Sattlberger/Getty Images

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